1.) Kelly Slater: If you could only use one word to describe Kelly Slater it would have to be “dominance.” Whether it’s winning an unprecedented number of world titles or winning the Surfer Poll more than anybody in the history of the event (including Tom Curren), for over 15 years now Kelly’s served as surfing’s greatest ambassador, virtually transforming the industry in the process. The people have spoken, and Kelly’s still their favorite.
2.) Andy Irons: It’s only a matter of time before Andy Irons wins another world title. No one hates losing and loves winning more than Andy, and bless him for that. He’s still the only person in history to give Kelly Slater a run for the money, and that deserves a ton of respect – especially since more often than not he’s come out on the winning end of the rivalry.
3.) Rob Machado: In 20 years we may still see Rob Machado in the Top 10 of the Surfer Poll, hes that kind of a character. Sure hes been “retired” from the Tour for some years now, but nobody seems to mind. In fact, seeing as he climbed up a few spots this year, people seem to like Mr. Soul even more. As Kelly Slater said about Rob, “If they made you ride a singlefin, a twinnie, a stand-up paddle board and a thruster on tour, Rob would beat us all.” Like Curren, and Lopez before him, Rob is one of those rare surfers blessed with perfect style. Wouldnt it be nice if we all had a little bit of Rob in us?
4.) Bruce Irons: It’s been said about Bruce that he surfs “like he just don’t give a fuck.” And while Bruce’s results on the WCT may not be comparable to his older brother, his ability to capture the imagination of the surfing world cant be stated enough. Maybe thats why he’s in the Top 10 of the Surfer Poll.
5.) Bobby Martinez: Nobody has ever come straight out of the gates and made such a drastic impact on the Surfer Poll than Bobby Martinez. Not even ranked in the Poll last year, in large part because of his break-out performance on the WCT this year, Bobby has proved to everybody that not only does his ability in the water rank among the world’s best, but that he also has the heart and charisma to be a crowd favorite for a long time to come.
6.) Taj Burrow: Always exciting, always innovative, Taj Burrow, whos in the midst of one of his best years on the WCT, is hands down one of the most progressive surfers on the planet. Not only that, but he does it with style, and thats something special. The highest ranked Australian in the Surfer Poll this year, Taj could very easily be the first Aussie world champ since Occy took the crown in 2000.
7.) CJ Hobgood: A couple of years ago CJ and Damien Hobgood finished dead even in the Surfer Poll. They probably thought we were just fooling around and making fun of them, and maybe it’s just our readers couldnt tell them apart, but this year the people have spoken, and if only by a slight edge, it appears CJ’s got the upper hand.